The Android Silver program was intended to deliver flagship quality handsets from major manufacturers equipped with “stock” Android, rather than the commonly applied manufacturer skins. An adjunct to, and not a replacement for, the Google Nexus program, Android Silver was to focus on consumer devices, allowing the Nexus devices to go back to their roots as developer devices, without the pressure of designing phones to meet consumer demands.
In order to convince skeptical manufacturers to make phones which stick to Google’s standards, without manufacturer skins or carrier bloatware, Google was to commit to providing large sums of advertising dollars to OEMs and carriers, and provide software updates directly, freeing the manufacturers and carriers from the expense of software testing, and letting consumers avoid the often lengthy delays between Google’s release of an update and the carriers’ making it available to consumers.
Samsung, along with LG, HTC, and Motorola, was rumored to be designing Android Silver devices. These manufacturers, already worried about Google’s power in the marketplace, were reportedly reluctant partners, as were the carriers. In the U.S., only T-Mobile and Sprint agreed to participate. Manufacturers were worried that they would have little way to differentiate their offerings from those of the competition, resulting in consumers choosing based primarily on price, putting already thin profits (or losses, in some cases) under pressure.
The final nail in Android Silver’s coffin seems to have been the resignation of Google’s Chief Business Officer, Nikesh Arora. The veteran of 10 years with Google, Arora left earlier this year to join Softbank. He was apparently the champion of the Silver program within Google, and without him pushing the program there was little support for it inside or outside Google.
We at Samsung Update are more than a little disappointed. We were looking forward to a choice of highly-spec’d phones featuring stock Android, at hopefully reasonable prices. We also can’t help but wonder if Samsung’s “Silver Shine” phone hasn’t morphed into the Galaxy Alpha. Google would like to eliminate SD cards, and the Alpha is the only current Samsung phone without one. The Alpha’s premium metal construction would fit the Android Silver goal of “high-end design” as well.
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